Since we are so close, I started work on another book called Whispered Pain. Originally a flash fiction piece of less than 1,500 words, the story of Angie Benson wouldn't let me go, so I plan on expanding it into a novel. My goal is to release it in November. Here is the cover:
And here is the unedited prologue:
What does it mean to be alive? It's an age old conundrum with various answers. Some are universal. To touch, taste, smell, see, hear and feel. It might be the gentle fingers of a mother, stroking the soft skin of her newborn. Or, is it the taste of a sumptuous meal on your tongue? The smell of summer rain, freshly cut grass, your lover's scent. Drinking in the vibrant colors of the sky at sunset, or the shimmering moon as it peaks over a snow covered mountain. The joyous squeals of children's laughter as they play without worry, still cocooned away inside naiveté. Experiencing a moment of pure ecstasy when you climax, or the soul crushing sorrow when you lose a loved one. The rush of endorphins flooding your body while bungee jumping or skydiving.
I could go on and on, but you get my drift. Being alive is all of those things, and a host of numerous others. What one person considers living may be the stuff of nightmares to another, but in the end, it's all about breathing. Blood flow. Heart beats. Sensation. Awareness. Consciousness. Thinking. Reasoning.
Why, are you wondering, do I pose such a loaded question? To stir debate? Engage your brain cells? Force a deep conversation about life in general? Oh, no, nothing so lofty. It's quite simple, really. I just want to know. Want to feel. Want to see. Want to anything again.
Because I'm lost, wandering, disoriented, disjointed and distorted. No longer associated with anything. The sensations of all senses elude me. Mere blips of faded memories I can't seem to grasp any longer tumble around me. I can't recall how it felt to be kissed. Hugged. What a belly laugh was like. How boredom felt. Anticipation. Grief. Joy. Regret. Sadness. Fear. Hunger. Bone weary tired. Nothing. I feel...nothing.
Oh, did I fail to mention why? Because I'm no longer among the living. At least, I don't think I am. To be honest, I'm not quite sure. I don't remember my name, my age, or even my sex. I don't feel. I can't smell. I hear, but sounds don't register emotional responses anymore. I see, but it's all in muted grays, no vibrant colors. Dead. Lifeless. Dull.
No sense of time, space, awareness. I just...float. Yeah, float. Like a weightless cloud drifting through the limitless universe. No purpose. No destination. No set trajectory. No rhyme or reason.
I don't know where I am, how I arrived at this point, this unexplainable state. Ebony nothingness has swallowed me whole. I'm not sure of anything.
Can you, will you, help me? I need to know. I want to know. I have to know. Who am I?
Where am I? How do I escape this black void?
Please, help me. I'm begging you.
Light is back. Distant, but there. It ebbs and flows like the tides of the ocean. What? What did you say? It sounded like Angie. Speak louder. What does that mean? Is Angie my name? I don't know. Can't recall. Somehow, for some strange reason, it seems right. So, I'm female? Are you here to rescue me? Is your voice a cord, a link, to pull me free? Oh please, please let it be.
What? I can't understand you. Your voice is all wrong. The words are jumbled. Come back? Come back to me, Angie...are those the words? Yes, yes they are. I'm trying, but I don't know how. Can't you just come, whisk me to safety?
Wait, who are you? Oh, I don't care, just keep talking. It makes the light brighter. I don't know if I'm moving closer to it, or it is coming toward me, but it isn't as far away as before. Ouch, that hurts. Oh, God, I feel pain! Glorious pain! If I'm dead, I wouldn't be able to, right? The burn, the sting, do it again! It brings bursts of color! Reds, blues, greens. Chases the drab hues away.
Where did you go? Are you still there? I can't see you, don't hear your voice. Please, please, I'm begging you. Don't leave me here all alone. I'm scared. Terrified of the dark, the bone-chilling quiet.
What's that sound? It's so familiar. The high pitched wails...oh, God, it's a baby! Keep crying, little one. Yes, that's it. Louder! I'm following, I'm coming. Your voice lets the light in. I see now! I recognize this place. The pink walls, the delicate scrolls on the wooden crib. The thick shag carpet, the sheer white curtains I helped Mom make. There you are, Amelia! I see you, and I know you!
Your chubby cheeks, stained red from crying, little hands balled into tight fists. You're wearing my favorite onesie, the one Aunt Melanie made you, with a matching nightgown for me. The yellow one with blue and green turtles. Where's Mom? Dad? Can't they hear you? It's okay, I'm coming. I'll hold you. Comfort you. Almost there. No, don't stop crying! The light is dimming. Wait, someone is coming. They'll take care of you, so please, ask them to help me! I'm here, right here. Can't you see me? Help!
What...what are you doing to Amelia? Don't...don't hold her like that. She's fragile, just a baby. She's slow, that's what Momma says. Who are you? Stop, put her down! Leave my baby sister alone. No! She can't breathe! You're smothering her. Mom! Dad! Hurry, help Amelia! Someone is trying to kill her. Oh, God, she's not breathing! She's all alone in her crib, her cheeks and hands are grayish blue.
Momma! I'm so sorry. I couldn't help her, couldn’t stop him. Please, Momma, don't cry. You still have me. Can't you see me?